Sun’s out – trainers on!
There’s no shortage of awesome members at our Brixton studio and we love hearing about the challenges you’ve set yourself. This week, we caught up with Stephen Connolly, a long time Fierce Grace Brixton member who’s recently completed his first Marathon and is now hooked on the running and hot yoga combo!
Stephen originally came to hot yoga as he was feeling tired, anxious and run down with an obsessive gym habit. The positive results, he says were immediate on both body and mind. That was 9 years ago and he’s never looked back!
So … how did he make the jump from gym and yoga to running the Brighton Marathon?
Tell us about yourself
I work for Age UK and have lived in Brixton for just over 23 years. I ran my first Marathon this year just for fun! I love exploring this amazing city on my bike and taking time to switch off in the hot room and have been practicing hot yoga for over 9 years: I find it keeps me sane and grounded. I’ve struggled with feelings of anxiety and have found that Fierce Grace is my sanctuary – struggles melt away and happiness and calm are restored each time I practice in the studio.
What attracted you to hot yoga?
Initially, I was going to the gym, doing weights, whilst overtraining my pecks and shoulders obsessed with getting fit and kicking bad habits. Things were starting to take their toll on me and I was constantly feeling tired, anxious and run down! A friend suggested a hot yoga class and I was hooked instantly. I was amazed at the immediate effects the yoga had on my body. Yoga changes and shapes you in ways you won’t believe – plus I think drinking water and being hydrated is one of the best things you can do for your body. I often come out of class feeling like a weight has been lifted: mind open and free, body energised and yet relaxed.
How do you balance running and yoga in your day to day life?
Training for the marathon is a big commitment. I had to be strict with my diet, get the miles in each week plus my regular yoga fix. For running training, my energy levels are best in the morning and I feel it sets you up in good form for the rest of the day. My training plan included 2 runs, 3 yoga classes and 2 rest days each week – hard work but it all payed off when I crossed the finish line! However, running just for fun at the moment, with no long distances required is great!
What is your favourite class and posture?
Difficult question as they are all so good and I try to keep mixing it up, but as I have to choose I would say Classic Class purely based on the fact that Ustrasana Camel Pose is my favourite posture and you get to do it twice in Classic – result! The feeling of having your head hanging upside down is incredible to me, it stretches the entire front of the body, the neck and shoulders: all areas I have feel are tight and always a challenge in class.
What advice would you give to a newcomer?
Always congratulate yourself for turning up to class that in its self is an achievement. Be mindful in your movement don’t forget to breath and be happy with whatever the outcome.
What’s up next?
I plan to do another Marathon next year. Fingers crossed I will get a place in London 2020, but failing that Berlin will be my second choice.
Thank you to all the amazing teachers, staff and helping hands at the studio for giving us a truly special sanctuary of fitness, joy, health and wellbeing in Brixton.